Subclinical anxiety and depression are associated with deficits in attentional target facilitation, not distractor inhibition [post]

Alexandra C Pike, Frida Printzlau, Alexander H. von Lautz, catherine harmer, Mark G. Stokes, MaryAnn Noonan
2019 unpublished
Mood and anxiety disorders are associated with deficits in attentional control involving emotive and non-emotive stimuli. Current theories focus on impaired attentional inhibition of distracting stimuli in producing these deficits. However, standard attention tasks struggle to separate distractor inhibition from target facilitation. Here, we investigate whether distractor inhibition underlies these deficits using neutral stimuli in a behavioural task specifically designed to tease apart these
more » ... o attentional processes. Healthy participants performed a validated four-location Posner cueing paradigm and completed self-report questionnaires measuring depressive symptoms and trait anxiety. Using regression analyses, we found no relationship between distractor inhibition and mood or anxiety symptoms. However, we find a relationship between target facilitation and both depression and anxiety. Specifically, higher depressive symptoms were associated with reduced target facilitation, and higher anxiety symptoms were associated with enhanced target facilitation in a task-version in which the target location repeated over a block of trials. By contrast, we find the opposite direction of relationships in a task-version in which the location of the forthcoming target was cued on a trial-wise basis. This dissociation may point to separate mechanisms underlying the relationships between depressive and anxiety symptoms and attention and warrants further investigation in clinical populations.
doi:10.31219/ fatcat:aer6efaaijbjvp7hpgh66r2tge